NSW government commits $11.7m for Williamtown defence precinct

The NSW government has committed $11.7 million to begin work on a new defence, aviation and technology commercial precinct at Williamtown, according to a News Corp Australia report.

Deputy premier John Barilaro told attendees at a recent Committee for Economic Development of Australia dinner at Fort Scratchley that the government would contribute money to begin Stage 1 of the Astra Aerolab, which is a major technology and innovation development planned near Newcastle Airport.

The airport’s board, management and owners – Port Stephens and Newcastle councils – are in charge of planning the development, which would house the maintenance and support services for fighter jets.

Aside from defence, aviation and technology businesses, the precinct says it could also be home to firms that specialise in advanced manufacturing, mining and education.

The funding will be used to build an access road from Williamtown Drive to the location of the development’s first stage, in the nearby BAE Systems Australia facility. It will also be used for the installation of water, sewer, gas, electrical and broadband infrastructure.

Newcastle Airport will also be committing $7.86 million towards the new road, as well as to prepare the site for development, which will involve vegetation removal and bulk earthworks.

“The precinct would capitalise on the existing economic strengths of the region,” Barilaro told News Corp Australia.

“Over its lifetime, this new project will create thousands of firect and indirect jobs, including roles for aviation IT and avionic specialists, mechanics and engineers in the Hunter.

“Australia’s combat aircraft, like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and Hawk 127, require significant long-term maintenance and upkeep, and the new precinct will create an opening for businesses to address that demand.”

The Astra Aerolab is expected to generate more than 5500 jobs in the Hunter region and inject $246 million into the state’s economy.

Tenders for pre-construction contracts are expected to be issued in the coming weeks, with site clearing and road construction to start early in 2019.

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